V AIR SERVICE AREA COMMAND
FAR EAST AIR FORCES
LOCATED AT DEPOT #2, TOWNSVILLE, QLD
DURING WW2

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V Air Service Area Command Headquarters building was located near the
end of the old Stock Route Airfield which is now today's Dalrymple Road
You can see a line of hangars built along the Stock Route Airfield.
This is now Dalrymple Road, one of Townsville's very busy roads.

 

A closer view of V Air Service Area Command Headquarters building
which is located near the bottom centre of the above
photograph

 

Headquarters of V Air Service Area Command, Far East Air Forces

 

Colour Video of HQ Building
Warning this file is large - 850Kbytes

 

On 7 August 1942 General George C. Kenney appointed Colonel Donald W. Benner in charge of the supply and maintenance activities in the Townsville area. One month later Kenney appointed Colonel Victor E. Bertrandias, a previous Vice President of Douglas Aircraft, as the Commanding Officer of the 4th Air Depot Group in Townsville and responsible for building Depot No. 2. It was also known as the Townsville Air Depot.

Six 170 ft x 200 ft and five 100 ft x 200 ft wooden-arch hangars were erected for repair activities and five more hangars were erected for warehouse purposes. A camp for 600 officers and ordinary ranks was erected nearby at the bottom of Mount Louisa. In early October 1942 some constituent units of the 4th Air Depot Group at Tocumwal arrived in Townsville to assist with building of No. 2 Depot which sprawled across 1,630 acres of land near Mount Louisa. Approximately 90% of the Depot was finished by December 1942.

On January 26th 1943, an Advanced Echelon of the Air Service Command, Fifth Air Force was established at the base of Mount Louisa, and Lt/Col V.E. Bertrandias assumed command.

5th Air Service Command comprised of:-

- 4th Air Depot Group
- 12th Air Depot Group
- 15th Air Depot Group
-  8th Service Squadron
-  760th Chemical Dept. Co.
-  1909th Ordnance Co.
other separate detachments and Service Squadrons

They were all based at Depot #2 Townsville, which was located at the base of Mount Louisa next to Garbutt airfield. The facilities at the base of Mount Louisa was officially given the name Depot #2 in September 1943. Depot #2 was also known as the Townsville Air Depot (TAD).

Hangar R-2

 

A later photo of R-2

Townsville was chosen as the location for Depot #2 because of its nearness to New Guinea. Aircraft were able to carry out bombing missions to New Guinea from Townsville. Other factors were Townsville's port facilities and its access via the rail network.

The 5th Air Service Command was responsible for assembling, modifying, overhauling and carrying out major repairs on aircraft.

Sign outside the Headquarters building

There were 35 igloo type buildings erected at the base of Mount Louisa. The Depot comprised repair shops, stores, and numerous aircraft engine test stands complete with sound proofing.  Wartime photos show an extensive road network through the bush connecting all of the buildings etc.

The Depot was initially built by the US Engineering Corps, but was later taken over by the Allied Works Council.

Living quarters (see photo below) comprised over 120 large barrack type buildings plus 3 or 4 tent cities. There was also an extensive sports ground in the vicinity.

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Part of Depot #2 can be seen above the old Stock Route Air Strip.  This Air Strip is now Dalrymple Road. Duckworth Street can be seen running upwards to the right at 45 degrees heading towards Garbutt Aerodrome.  There are numerous aircraft (at least 45) parked on tarmacs in this photograph

 

Click here to view a much large version of the above picture
(Warning - this file is 769 kilobytes)

 

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Fifth Air Service Command camp located at the base of Mount Louisa

Entertainment in the camp was held at Helton Hall, which was an open aired building. Some famous Hollywood stars appeared at Helton Hall including John Wayne and Joe E. Brown, Gary Cooper, Una Merkel and Phyllis Brook.

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Fifth Air Service Command camp at the base of Mount Louisa

 

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Hangars erected along the Stockroute airfield (now Dalrymple Road

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Hangars erected along the Stockroute airfield (now Dalrymple Road

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Hangars erected along the Stockroute airfield (now Dalrymple Road

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Can anyone please identify these people?

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Can anyone please identify these people?

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Wreckage of an aircraft in the bush

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Can anyone please identify this person

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Knock off time!!

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Hangars at No. 2 Depot

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An RAAF Wirraway at the nearby Stockroute airfield

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Can anyone please identify these people?

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Can anyone please identify these people?

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One of the two cranes at No. 2 Depot

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One of the local snakes!!

Can anyone please identify these people?

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C-47 and a truck

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Note the bullet holes

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Brigadier General Kenneth Walker with RAAF officers in North East Area HQ Officers Mess

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Can anyone please identify these people?

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Where is this?

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Where is this?

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Who is this?

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A crashed C-47

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Mount Louisa

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Helton Hall, the entertainment hall

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Typical camp life at No. 2 Depot

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Castle Hill and Townsville as vied from No. 2 Depot, Mount Louisa

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A Japanese aircraft in American markings at #2 Depot

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Inside one of the workshop hangars

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The 630th Engine overhauled

The last real remaining evidence of Depot #2 - the 3 concrete hangar floors and footings adjacent to Duckworth Street in Townsville - are no more. The developers dug up and crushed all the concrete flooring in March/April 2004. Each one of these hangar floors were approx 53m x 53m. In early May 2004, only one part of the original precinct remained with plans at hand for it to go shortly.


Photo: via Jim Moffett

CG-4A Glider at the Townsville Air Depot. Note the Butler hangars in
the background which were built on what used to be the Stock Route Airfield

 

Mount Louisa - Then and Now
A series of photos taken in 1959 and 1992
You can compare the differences
and see the remains of the 5th Air Service Command camp
accommodation

 

REFERENCES

The Army Air Forces in World War II, Volume Four

 

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This page first produced 14 February 2002

This page last updated 06 December 2016